Fri, Sep 17, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Police not stopped from voting: NPA

FREE CHOICE Despite pan-blue conspiracy theories contending otherwise, police, military and coast guard personnel were not deterred from voting, officials say

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Police and Coast Guard officials yesterday told a Taiwan High Court hearing that none of their personnel had been deterred from voting in the presidential election because of heightened alert after President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) were shot on March 19.

"We always follow the standard procedure when carrying out necessary security measures in different situations," Liu Shih-lin (劉世林), deputy director-general of the National Police Agency said.

"During the presidential election on March 20, we did not do anything out of the ordinary," he said

Liu said that according to regulations for the presidential election, officers had to suspend their regular off days and report to work in case of an emergency. However, the agency also asked local police departments, precincts and stations to allow their officers to leave temporarily if they wished to vote.

"Most officers would have given up their right to vote to go home and sleep because they were simply too tired after work," Liu said.

"As for the total number of officers who did not vote, the agency never counted them," he said.

Liu made his testimony during a High Court hearing yesterday morning. Regarding the March 19 assassination attempt on the president and vice president, Liu testified that the agency learned of the incident from TV news.

"We heard the news at 2:25pm on March 19. But, around 2:33pm, the Tainan Police Department reported that the president and vice president were injured by firecrackers, which was later corrected and confirmed as an assassination attempt," Liu said.

According to the schedule for this week's hearings, presiding Judge Wu Ching-yuan (吳景源) will repeatedly summon head officials from the nation's military, police, security and coast guard services to figure out whether any personnel were forced to give up voting because of the activation of the so-called "national security mechanism" after the assassination attempt -- an action the pan-blue camp claims cost them the presidential election.

Coast Guard Deputy Director Yu Chien-tzu (游乾賜) testified that the Coast Guard Administration did not recall staff because of the shooting, although, following a request made by former coast guard director Wang Chun (王郡), the staff who were on duty were on a heightened alert in case those involved in the shooting attempted to flee the country.

"We have 15,825 staff members, and according to our statistics, 3,795 of them did not vote," Yu told the hearing.

"But according to our investigation, these people did not vote because their bases were too far away from polling stations," he said.

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